1. What are the biggest unforeseen hurdles when it comes to divorce?
Never underestimate the importance of a well drafted, carefully thought-out divorce agreement. There are things that may not present themselves to be issues at the time of a divorce, but may become contentious at a later stage.
Healing from a divorce is a process: A divorce is a massive trauma - I was once told by a woman that had been divorced from her first husband and had lost her second husband to illness, that for her, going through the divorce was far more traumatic than losing her spouse. In the case where there are children between divorcing spouses, the trauma may be protracted and ongoing. It is important to note that divorce can be exceptionally traumatic and it can take some time to heal.
2. Is there still a stigma attached to divorce?
Although divorce is far more acceptable today, there is definitely still some degree of stigma attached. Even though a divorce may be a more peaceful solution to an unhappy or abusive marriage, many women fear leaving a marriage because of the stigma attached to being a divorcee.
3. What is The Divorce Source?
The Divorce Source is an online support hub, where divorced or divorcing women can visit for information and inspiration. We have a resident attorney, Noa Kinstler, who provides legal content. We listen to our audience and often feature articles with issues that have been raised by our audience. The site also provides articles specifically written for our readers by psychologists, social workers and life coaches. Additionally we have a section where we feature articles written by women who have been through the divorce process, so that our community can learn from shared experiences.
The site is interactive in that women can comment on the articles and establish a discuss from there. There is also a Q and A section. The Divorce Source is linked to an open Facebook group, where other relevant links to articles are posted. We also have a closed Facebook group for interaction and support between divorced and divorcing women. Women wanting to join our closed forum are welcome to send an inbox request.
We understand that divorce is a very difficult experience and The Divorce Source aims to empower women through information and inspire them through sharing and reading of the experience of other women that have healed from their divorces.
4. What motivated you to start this online site?
I am a divorcee myself. Almost 8 years ago, without any process or pre-warning, my husband decided that he wanted a divorce. I was a mother of three children, the oldest being three and the youngest being eight months old at the time. At the time, I found it very difficult to cope with the trauma of an unwanted divorce. I felt alone, lonely, embarrassed, isolated, stigmatised and petrified. I did not know many people who had been divorced and I found there to be very little available support. I was fortunate in that my medical aid covered some therapy sessions, but other than that, I felt very alone.
Through my own process and healing, I began helping other women that were going through the same circumstances. Being able to help others as a result of my divorce has given my life great meaning. One day, I remember brainstorming and trying to think how I could reach as many women as possible - that was how The Divorce Source was conceptualised. Basically, I went about creating a resource that I thought would have helped me when I was going through my divorce.
5. What can women expect to find on the site?
They can find legal information on issues pertaining to divorce, such a maintenance, settlement, domestic abuse, issues pertaining to children. New articles are uploaded once or twice a month. There are articles written on emotional issues, written by psychologists and life coaches. There is also a section where women who have been through a divorce share their stories. There is a "job zone" where jobs can posted and there is an au pair zone, where we allow au pairs to advertise their services to single moms. There is also a Q and A section.
6. What are some ways women can empower themselves when divorcing or being divorced?
It is important to know what your rights are. The Divorce Source provides good legal content, but there are also divorce attorneys that provide free legal content online. Knowledge is power - a woman needs to understand exactly what she is entitled to in a divorce in terms of the law. If a woman is able to afford a divorce attorney, she should choose someone based on reputation and recommendation. Depending on the unique situation of the couple that are divorcing, a woman should be empowered to choose the route of mediation, if appropriate.
If it is affordable, a woman should find herself a good therapist to give her emotional support during and after her divorce. If this is not possible, there are many community organisations that offer free or reduced rate counselling sessions.
It is empowering to be in contact with women that have been through the process of divorce, and emerged from their situation as happy, healed individuals. Although it is tempting to spend time with women going through a similar experience, it is important to spend time and seek advice from women that have turned their divorce into a positive experience. We cannot always choose the circumstances that life throws at us, but we can most certainly choose how we will react to those circumstances.
7. What are the common issues women deal with during this time?
If a divorce was not the woman's choice, there are often issues of rejection, abandonment and low self-esteem. If a woman has chosen to leave her husband, she may be dealing with feelings of guilt. Either way, it is common that divorced or divorcing women experience low self-esteem, depression, loneliness, anxiety and fear of the future. She may also be dealing with feelings of anger and hatred, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
When there are children involved, many women find it difficult to fully process their emotions surrounding the divorce as they feel that they need to "hold it together" for the sake of their children.
Women often experience very real financial fears. Although most households today rely on more than one breadwinner, women are often not the main breadwinner. The reality of divorce very often means that a woman will have to resume work or supplement her existing income, as well as still being responsible for looking after her children. This can be extremely stressful, even if a woman has an exceptionally positive outlook.
8. Name 5 coping strategies of dealing with divorce
Being real with yourself and others. The reality is that divorce is horrible. It's okay to acknowledge that. It's also okay to acknowledge that you are sad, angry, fearful or anxious.
Accepting that "what is, is". Especially in the case of an unwanted divorce, the sooner that a woman accepts that this is now her new reality, the sooner she can process her situation and begin to heal and move on.
It does not mean that you are "less than" if you ask for help. Ask for help or accept help wherever possible. You do not have to go through the process of divorce alone. Many women feel that it is a sign of weakness to ask for help.
Make a list of everything that is upsetting you. Then divide the list into two columns - things you can control and things you cannot control. Commit to dedicating as little energy and airtime to the things that you cannot control.
Be kind to yourself. Remember to eat, sleep, exercise (even a 30 minute walk is good) and take care of yourself. The process of divorce can be physically and emotionally taxing - it is so important to be kind to your body and yourself, so that you can get through the rough times.
9. What other resources can women who are going through divorce use?
There is a website called www.sadsa.co.za, which is a website created by the South African Divorce Support Association.
In terms of legal support, there are a number of websites where women can visit to try and seek out pro bono legal assistance listed on our site.
10. Is there hope at the end? And why?
Of course there is hope. King Solomon of the bible stated "this too shall pass" and this is true. Nothing is permanent - not good times or bad. It is important to know that things will and do change BUT I definitely believe that happiness is ultimately a choice. In order to have the best outcome, a woman needs to make a commitment to doing whatever she can in order to heal from her divorce and to create a happy life for herself. I recall being totally devastated and helpless at the time of my divorce. I remember fearing the future. I also remember making a conscious decision that my divorce was not going to be the end of my happiness. Today, I have remarried and have had a fourth child.
Founder of the online resource site, The Divorce Source and first time author, Stacey Lewis, gives a tour de force of the divorce experience through her book – Divorce 101: Survive and Thrive.
This must-have compendium provides a multi-faceted insight into divorce: from Stacey’s own personal journey of being left devastated by an unexpected divorce through to her emotional liberation, transforming her pain into a gift to help the reader reach an empowered response to love and to life.
The book includes specialised contributions from a variety of experts: attorneys, psychologists, life coaches, image consultants to finances and nutrition – creating a solid foundation to take the first steps to finding your gift.
This gentle book, filled with a good dose of compassion (and humor in parts) will guide you through this difficult time, empowering you with the conscious choice: to choose happiness – this is the gift or perhaps, part of the gift as each experience brings the opportunity to find a point in which you can say: my divorce happened for me – not to me.
The table of contents contains chapter headings which include: The end (of the beginning?), Beacons of hope, The emotional rollercoaster, Facing your fear, Children and parenting, Major decisions involving a child, Legal advice, Finances and even dating, culminating in the final chapter, The end (and beginning).
In this way, Stacey’s nurturing words bring the reader full circle, inspiring us with the knowledge that although we may seek the gift of validation and love from others, in truth we need to be able to find it through our own journey and give this (love and validation) to ourselves first.
For more information, please visit the Divorce source.
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